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ODA urges state task force to allow dental offices to reopen as soon as possible 4/15/2020

The Ohio House of Representatives' newly created 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force, made up of a bipartisan cross section of 24 members of the Ohio House of Representatives, recently began its deliberations on creating a framework for when Ohio begins to lift restrictions on businesses. The task force has heard from health care experts on the models and data currently being relied upon to determine future projections related to infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths due to the coronavirus in Ohio.   

The committee has also heard from health care providers, including physicians and dentists, who have been impacted by the state’s order to delay all non-essential surgeries and procedures and from restaurant owners who have been ordered to shut down except take-out orders. The task force has indicated that it plans to create a set of guidelines or recommendations for reopening businesses in Ohio and is welcoming input from various professionals and businesses that have been affected by the current state of emergency.  

Yesterday, Ohio Dental Association President Dr. Sharon Parsons and Executive Director David Owsiany issued a statement to the task force explaining that "while the current coronavirus pandemic has created difficulties for many small businesses in Ohio, it has been devastating for Ohio’s small business dental offices."

The statement points out that Ohio dentists understand the gravity of the situation related to the coronavirus pandemic and have done their part to assist in the state’s efforts by severely limiting their practices in order to preserve PPE, treating emergencies to keep dental patients from presenting at hospital ERs, and donating their excess PPE to ensure their health care colleagues on the front lines are protected when treating COVID-19 patients. However, as the statement explains, in limiting their practices to treating only emergencies, dentists are generating next to no revenue while still incurring significant overhead expenses. This reality has pushed many dental offices to the “brink of insolvency.”

Moreover, dentists aren’t the only ones hurt by the state’s order to delay care. The statement points out that delaying “prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental disease will lead to more invasive dental procedures” down the road and can also lead to systemic health issues.  

Parsons and Owsiany urge that “as soon as possible, these dental practices must be allowed to open up and provide the full range of treatment that Ohioans need.” The statement points out that in opening dental practices, Ohio’s dentists are prepared to take special precautions to limit patient interactions with each other and potential exposure to the coronavirus, including having a detailed questionnaire/conversation before scheduling appointments, taking the temperature of the patient at the outset, staggering patient appointments to reduce waiting room exposure and having patients wait in their cars instead of waiting room areas. Dentists will also secure the equipment and supplies necessary to provide treatment in a safe and efficient environment for their patients and staff.

The statement also calls for Ohio to adopt additional policy initiatives and reforms to support dental practices, including tax credits, grants and low interest loans. The ODA statement also calls on policymakers to authorize dentists to administer tests for COVID-19 antibodies, noting that widespread testing will give caregivers useful information about their patients and will further enhance the opening of Ohio’s economy.  

The statement concludes by stating “as Ohio looks to restart its economy, Ohio’s dentists are prepared and asking to go back to work in order to generate economic activity, restore their employees, and, most importantly, provide Ohioans the oral health care they need.”   

Read the full statement by clicking here.

COVID-19 information for dental offices in Ohio Click here to view current and updated information and resources about the coronavirus for dental offices in Ohio. The American Dental Association also has many resources available for dentists about COVID-19 that can be found by clicking here. When looking through these resources please understand that this is not business or legal advice. The goal of this communication is to give members resources to ensure that they are prepared when talking with their personal human resources staff, attorney or accountant.

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